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In Plain Sight

Wealth Gap Widens: World’s Richest Make as Much as 3.5 Billion Poorest

Image: Homes crowd the Rocinha shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Homes crowd the Rocinha shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, May 22, 2012. Local officials and human rights groups are working to give legal title to tens of thousands of residents of shantytowns like Rocinha, a process that increases their wealth and gives them greater access to credit, as well as peace of mind. The programs so far are just a start at tackling a widespread problem: A third of the people in Rio state, nearly 5 million people, don't have title to their homes, an uncertainty shared by most of the approximately 1 billion people who living in slums globally. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) Felipe Dana / AP, file

The combined wealth of the world's richest 85 people is now equivalent to that owned by half of the world's population – or 3.5 billion of the poorest people – according to a new report from Oxfam.

In a report titled "Working for the Few" released Monday, the global aid and development organization detailed the extent of global economic inequality created by the rapidly increasing wealth of the richest, warning of the major risks it poses to "human progress."

According to the report, 210 people have become billionaires in the past year, joining a select group of 1,426 individuals with a combined net worth of $5.4 trillion.

It added that the wealth of the richest one percent of people in the world now amounts to $110 trillion, or 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world's population.

"This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems," the report said.